Writing and Reviewing your Safeguarding Adults Policies: 5 Essentials to Get Right

Here are some tips for developing or reviewing your safeguarding adults policy, procedures and guidance based on some of the questions and issues that have arisen when I have reviewed documents.

1. Have separate policy and procedures and guidance for safeguarding children and safeguarding adults

Many sports organisations have only relatively recently started to understand and address safeguarding responsibilities in relation to vulnerable adults or adults at risk. As a result safeguarding vulnerable adults has often been included in safeguarding children policy, procedures and practice guidance.

There are a variety of compelling reasons why children and adults should be separated including: the issues for children and adults are not the same; definitions and terms used differ; procedures for reporting abuse and handling cases are not the same; there is different legislation and policy; and joint policies often default to the language of safeguarding children.


2. Get the legislation right

‘No Secrets’ 2000 offered guidance to organisations but it wasn’t until the Care Act 2014 that safeguarding adults was put onto a statutory footing, outlining the responsibilities of the local authority and support agencies. See chapter 14 of the Government’s Care and Support Statuary Guidance.

The Care Act 2014 repealed No Secrets. Any policy and procedures and guidance that you develop should reference the Care Act definition of safeguarding.

“Adult safeguarding” is working with adults with care and support needs to keep them safe from abuse or neglect. It is an important part of what many public services do, and a key responsibility of local authorities.

The Care Act 2014

3. Get the definitions right

In No Secrets the term ‘vulnerable adults’ described a person “who is or may be in need of community care services by reason of mental or other disability, age or illness; and who is or may be unable to take care of him or herself, or unable to protect him or herself against significant harm or exploitation”. If your policy or procedure still has this definition then you need to change it.

In the Care Act This has been replaced by the term ‘adults at risk of harm’ – often shortened to ‘adults at risk’. There are 3 aspects to this definition:

An adult who:

• has needs for care and support (whether or not the local authority is meeting any of those needs)

• is experiencing, or at risk of, abuse or neglect

• as a result of those care and support needs is unable to protect themselves from either the risk of, or the experience of, abuse or neglect.


4. Get the categories of harm right

The definitions of the types of harm that adults may experience have increased in number from the 7 in No Secrets to 10. Some of the language of the original categories have also changed.

The categories are:

  • Physical
  • Sexual
  • Psychological/Emotional/Mental
  • Financial and material
  • Neglect and act of omission
  • Discriminatory
  • Organisational
  • Modern Day Slavery
  • Domestic Violence
  • Self Neglect – including hoarding

Also relevant but not included in the Care Act:

  • Forced marriage
  • FGM
  • Radicalisation
  • Cyber-bullying
  • Mate/hate crime


5. Use ACT resources to help you

We have revised the Safeguarding Adults in Sport Resource Pack to cover many of the issues that are covered above . There are also sample policy templates for you to download and adapt.


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